Gift-Giving 101

Our editors sound off on the perfect presents for the holidays.


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"The holidays give wine drinkers license to break out the good stuff. My wine gift recipients fall into two categories: those who appreciate the refined, and those who just want something red or white. Never mix the two." —Virginie Boone, contributing editor

JCB N°3 Pinot Noir ($123/750 ml)
As flamboyant as its creator, this Pinot Noir is sourced from two continents, showcasing the best of what California and Burgundy can do, using 60% Russian River Valley fruit and 40% from the Côte de Nuits.

Margrit Mondavi's Sketchbook: Reflections on Wine, Food, Art, Family, Romance and Life (Jennifer Barry Design, 2012) ($35)
For anyone on your list who loves a good memoir, this release from last summer is a beautiful look back at life with Robert from the Napa Valley’s grande dame.

Jean Dubost Laguiole Stag Horn Waiter Style Corkscrew ($150)
If you need it to open wine, it had better be Laguiole. Complete with a foil-cutting knife, this corkscrew’s handle is made from naturally shed stag’s horn.

Wine Straws ($2.99 for four; $7.99 for 12)
The brainchild of a red-wine lover who hated to see her teeth change color after drinking, these handy straws prevent dental stains and lipstick marks on your glass.


"After too many failed attempts at practical gifts, I now look for art, wine and gift certificates. I want to learn to play 'On the Sunny Side of the Street,' so I’m hoping for a harmonica." —Roger Voss, European editor

Silent 28-Bottle Touchscreen Wine Refrigerator ($299.95)
While you watch college bowl games and plot your custom wine cellar, keep a bottle per game cool in this handy 28-bottle wine fridge. Its touchscreen features make it a perfect gift for the tech-savvy wino.

Artiste Impressionist Winery's Red-Blend Duo Pack ($80/2-bottle pack)
Make an impression on the eyes and the palate with this duet of wine bottles featuring Donna Talerico’s “Vive les Chapeaux” original paintings.

Perrier-Jouët 2004 Belle Epoque Rosé ($350/750 ml)
See the holidays through rose-colored glasses. This beautifully packaged vintage Champagne by Perrier-Jouët is for your very best Facebook friend.


"Most of the people I shop for around the holidays aren’t that big into wine. So here’s my not-so-subtle list of things I wouldn’t mind finding under my tree." —Joe Czerwinski, managing editor

Fusion Classic Pinot Noir Glasses ($49.95)
You won’t get your money back if you break them intentionally, but with a 10-year limited warranty against breakage, drunk wine lovers will still enjoy dropping these from ever-increasing heights to test their true durability.

Wine Gift Certificates (price varies)
What’s better than getting a bottle of wine? Getting to choose your own, with a gift certificate or card to your favorite wine shop.

E. Guigal 2009 Red Côtes du Rhône ($16/750 ml)
It’s a bummer to blow a wad of cash on wine and find out it’s not the recipient’s preferred style. Here’s one nearly everyone will enjoy, and it’s under $20.

The New York Times Book of Wine: The Best Stories on Wine (Sterling Epicure, 2012) ($24.95)
This collection brings readers on a remarkable historical and cultural journey. It helps to be a wine lover to appreciate it, but it’s not a requirement.


"It’s easy to fall into a gift-giving routine, opting for traditional items like reputable Champagne. But to me, it’s not just about the beverage itself—it’s about the memories that the selection creates." Lauren Buzzeo, tasting director

Aroxa's Wine Uno Kit ($100)
The perfect item for any wino who wants to take their tasting skills to the next level. With 10 flavor notes—like dimethyl sulfide and 4-ethylphenol—you can seriously impress with your wine geekdom.

Wine Wars! A Trivia Game for Wine Geeks and Wannabes ($13.50)
I once received this as a gift, and it’s a blast to break out at parties stocked with good drinks, tasty food and great people. Just be ready to play with your lucky recipient!

Dogfish Head Noble Rot ($15/750 ml)
My favorite beverage gift is a craft beer that will really amaze, particularly for women that claim they don’t drink beer (which I’m more than happy to prove wrong).


Honorable Mention Gifts

Ruinart Rosé Interpretation Kit Ruinart Rosé Interpretation Kit ($99)
This appealing set comes with eight vials of fragrances formulated by cellar master Frédéric Panaïotis to help consumers deconstruct the aromatic profile of Ruinart’s Rosé Champagne.

Armani Dolci 16-Piece Praline Gift Box ($35)
Chocolate lovers can personalize the flavors that comprise this set, with decadent selections like dark chocolate with a saffron cream filling and white chocolate with a coffee gianduja filling.

Craft Coffee Artisan Tasting Box Gift ($19.99/month)
A monthly shipment of hand-selected beans from places including Yirgacheffe, Ethiopia, is another delicious way to taste terroir. Each pack of beans is labeled with tasting notes and other interesting factoids.

Wines of Italy ($9.99)
Pick up Wine Enthusiast’s new bible to all things Italia—and begin living la dolce vita. Italian Editor Monica Larner takes you region by region, vineyard by vineyard and trattoria by trattoria to not only inform, but to inspire you to explore Italy’s rich and endlessly varied wine culture for yourself. Salute.


Editors’ Fantastical Food-and-Wine Trips

Our editors rave about their dream trips that would make for the ultimate holiday gift to receive.

“My fantasy is to travel to the International Space Station through the Russian Space Agency’s Space Adventures program for tourists. While passing over the U.S., I would toast my country with a bottle of 1961 Krug Cuvée Champagne while eating a half-pound of Russian Beluga caviar on toast points. Estimated costs: space travel: $20 million, Champagne: $1,200, caviar: $1,150. toast points: 50 cents.” —Steve Heimoff, California editor

“My ideal epicurean adventure would start in Lyon, the culinary capital of France. From there, I would travel down the Rhône Valley with a wine-skin filled with Guigal’s 1999 La Landonne in my hand (an urbane emulation of Jake Barnes from Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises). I would continue on into Provence, before finally crossing the French Alps, ending in Piedmont, Italy, where Barolo and truffles from Alba are plentiful.” —Andrew Hoover, associate editor

“My dream is to head south for an escape from the cold on an extended tour of some of South America’s best places for wine, food and adventure: Cusco/Machu Picchu and Lima in Peru for trekking and restaurants; Chile’s beaches and Casablanca and Colchagua wine regions for tasting, and wrapping it all up with horseback riding and Malbec sampling in Argentina.” —Susan Kostrzewa, executive editor 

Get our top holiday book recommendations.

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